5 Surprising Health Benefits of Oats

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1. Lowers Cholesterol Levels 

Cholesterol problems are some of the greatest ailments swiftly taking over the modern population. The fast-paced, head-on competitive life has often left people forgotten about their health and sinking into the array of diseases originating from high levels of cholesterol.  A high level of cholesterol are acutely responsible for the build-up of plaques in the blood vessels; if these plaques by even the slightest chance get damaged or grow too much of size, they can break and block the whole of the blood vessel, effectively cutting off the flow of blood, causing blood clots, stroke or in a worst-case scenario, a heart attack. This explains the need for lowering cholesterol levels in order to reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases. 

2. Enhances Overall Cardiovascular Health 

Oats, which are already known for removing cholesterol through the body through their high fiber content, are now being found to have a second protective mechanism for cardiovascular health. Antioxidants called avenanthramides, unique to the likes of oats help prevent heart diseases by eliminating free radicals that damage good cholesterol in the body. A study conducted at Tufts University, published in The Journal of Nutrition showed the antioxidant effects of avenanthramides in protecting LDL cholesterol by carrying experiments on lab animals with similar bodily function to that of humans. After a 0.25 grams dose of oat bran, it took only 40 minutes for avenanthramides to appear in blood tests showing that avenanthramides had successfully made its way into the blood stream. Next, the researchers tested to see the effectiveness of avenanthramides in preventing the oxidation of good cholesterol by free radicals of copper. Not only did avenanthramides increase the time before cholesterol got oxidized but when supplements of vitamin C were added the duration was extended to 216 minutes from 137 minutes. This was a major breakthrough that gave the green signal to many other studies on the cardiovascular benefits of oats. 

3. Lowers Type-II Diabetes Risk 

Oat being a whole grain is a rich source of the mineral magnesium. Magnesium is a mineral which acts as a helping compound for more than 300 enzymes involved in reactions in different parts of the body.  The United States FDA permits only food items that contain at least 51% whole grain content by weight to display a health claim regarding heart disease and cancers. Research suggests that consumption of whole grains like oats on a daily basis can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. The research was published in the 2008 issue of Diabetes care whose purpose was to find the relation between intakes of magnesium with the risk of type 2 diabetes in African-American women. The trial lasted for 8 years and was carried out on 41,186 participants; the risk of type 2 diabetes was found to be 31% lower in women who frequently ate oats, in one form or another, compared to those who didn’t consume any or minimal amount of any whole food item. But when the experiment was carried out with magnesium supplements the rate of reduction dropped down to 19%, indicating that there was indeed the combination of minerals and compounds in whole grains that kept the rate even lower. 

4. Inhibits Cancer 

Cancer is swiftly becoming one of the most feared diseases on the planet; it is characterized by out-of-control multiplication of cells and can originate in any part of the body. Cancers harm the body by forming lumps or pile of unhealthy tissues called tumors that grow and interfere with the normal functions of the body. But the real danger begins when a cancerous cell manages to travel to different organs of the body and destroy healthy tissues; over there it replicates itself and feeds on every healthy tissue that once thrived in the body.  Even though, scientists have found many ways to halt the spread of these cells and in many cases destroy them, they still haven’t found a permanent, effective solution that would put an end to the risk of cancer. Moreover, the solutions found have too many side effects, therefore they can only be used when it is sure that a person has cancer and not to reduce its risk in the first place. 

5. Combats Childhood Asthma 

Asthma is an incurable disease that affects the normal function of airways in the lungs; the walls of these airways get swollen making the airways highly sensitive to any activity within these walls resulting in a swift allergic reaction to even the smallest irritation. Inflammation results in narrowing of the airways, causing hissing sounds while breathing, chest tightness and other breathing difficulties. Childhood asthma is just like asthma in adults but unlike adults, children don’t handle an asthma attack well which often results in trips to the emergency wards and subsequently absentees from school. Even though asthma is incurable, if it is countered from the start, it would be much more comfortable for the child in his/her older days. 

According to the American Lung Association, a whopping 20 million American citizen suffer from asthma; this number is responsible for about 14 million absentees a year from school that adds up to an economic cost of about 16 Billion Dollars an year. An international study on Allergy and Asthma in children suggested that an increased consumption of whole grains like oats and foods like fish could reduce the risk of asthma in children by 50%. The team was from the Dutch National Institute of Public Health and from the Environment Utrecht University Groningen. The team distributed questionnaires to parents with children between the ages of 8-13. Again no association was found between asthma and intake of fruits & vegetables but with children who consumed a high amount of whole grains such as oats had only 4.2% prevalence in wheezing compared to those who consumed little quantities.